Kearney, Neb. – Nebraska-Kearney head wrestling coach Marc Bauer today announced the names of six high school seniors and two transfers who will take to the mats for the Lopers this winter.
These are the first recruits for UNK. On last year’s national championship team, the Lopers had seven seniors, including five starters.
The incoming freshmen are Connor Bolling (125 lbs./Central City H.S.), Kane Kelly (174 lbs./Abilene, Kans.), Travis Leiskau (165 lbs./Houston, Texas), Chris Luehring (174-184 lbs./Bellevue West H.S.), Andrew Reidy (141 lbs./Grand Island Senior H.S.) and Jeremiah Starostka (184 lbs./Grand Island Central Catholic H.S.).
Coming in from Labette (Kans.) C.C. is Zach Anderson (197 lbs./Clay Center, Kans.) and transferring in from the University of Oklahoma is Chase Nelson (165 lbs./Wichita, Kans.).
There are family ties with the new Lopers as Anderson’s brother, Tyler, will be a sophomore for UNK this year while Starostka’s older brother, Zach, will be a junior.
“This could possibly be one of the best recruiting classes for Loper wrestling,” said Bauer.
Nelson, who has one year remaining, spent his freshman year at Labette and then went to Norman for 1 ½ years.
As a Sooner, he was the team’s starter at 157 lbs. in 2010-11. Going 19-11 and also competing at 165 lbs., he qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships in March after placing first at the prestigious Midlands Open Championships in December, beating the No. 1 seed in the process.
For Wichita Heights H.S., Nelson was a two-time state champ and then was the 2010 157 lbs. NJCAA national champ as a Labette Cardinal.
“Chase is a force in college wrestling. He is strong, athletic and has all physical tools to bring home an individual national title,” said Bauer. “We look forward to the impact he’ll make in our room and as he aims to take over the starting spot from two-time All-American Joey Wilson.”
Anderson, with three years left, was the 2012 NJCAA national runner up this at 197 lbs. At Clay Center H.S., he was the 2011 Class 4A 189 lbs. state champion.
Clay Center has been a pipeline for the Lopers. Besides the Anderson brothers, the school is home to 2007 national champion Trevor Charbonneau and 2003 national runner up Brandon Pfizenmaier.
“Zach has a great work ethic and will be a tremendous addition to our upper weights. We look for him to step in and push everyone around him,” said Bauer. “He has proven he can compete at a high level and could prove to be a difference maker for us in 2013.”
Bolling comes in with a slew of state accolades and also national experience. A three-time state finalist and a two-time state champion, he helped the Bison win the 2011 Class B team title, ending Omaha Skutt’s 13-year reign as champs.
Going 159-2 with 96 falls in his career, Bolling holds the Class B record for career takedowns at 771.
“Connor brings a wealth of experience and talent to UNK. Outside of his prep career, he has competed in many events around the country throughout the year,” said Bauer. “He has already proven he is ready to step in and start for us this year. We haven’t qualified a 125 pounder for the NCAA’s since Charbonneau in 2007.”
Kelly was a highly decorated wrestler, football and baseball player for the Abilene High Cowboys. On the mats, he was a two-time state placer who won the 2012 Class 4A 171 lbs. state title this past season.
Finishing with a 113-12 record (69 falls), he has earned All-American honors while competing in national tournaments. Kelly also has great wrestling ties as his grandfather, Rocky Welton, was the long time wrestling coach at Garden City H.S.
“Kane is an all-around athlete that will have a great impact on the future of our program,” said Bauer. “Coming from a long line of athletic tradition, he understands what it takes to be successful on the mat. He is a grinder and someone who is tough to score on. He’ll push the tempo every match.”
Leiskau will join Kelly, Luehring and Starostka as first-year Lopers who will likely redshirt. He was coached by former Loper Brad Ewing at Houston’s Klein Oak H.S., the same school that produced 2012 national champion Raufeon Stots.
Going 174-22 in his career with just 10 of those setbacks coming to Texas wrestlers, Leiskau won a 2012 Texas UIL 160 lbs. state title. Pinning 113 of his opponents, he also is a NHSCA All-American and is a two-time Academic All-American for a 3.97 GPA.
“Travis is a great addition to our program and should be a fixture in our lower upper weights,” said Bauer. “Like several of our other recruits, he has travelled the nation picking up valuable experience since he was a youngster. Travis is very technically sound, intelligent and athletic.”
For Bellevue West, Luehring won a Class A 171 lbs. state title this past season. A four-time state qualifier, he finished his prep career with a 77-16 mark.
“Chris caught our attention as a freshman in high school. This long and lanky young man has taken time to develop his skills in this body frame. However, his commitment to the sport has started to pay off,” said Bauer.
Next, Reidy is the 19th Nebraska prep wrestler to win four state titles. Helping the Islanders win the Class A team title the past four seasons, he finished his career at 169-9 with 133 falls. That includes a school-record 44 wins in one year.
Graduating as the top ranked student in his class, Reidy was award the Guy Mytty Wrestler of the Year Award for Class A.
“Andrew has the ability and skill set to step in and compete for a starting spot at 141 lbs. as true freshman. He is a very intelligent wrestler who does a phenomenal job of staying in position,” said Bauer. “Andrew is always on the attack and looking for scoring opportunities. We have been fortunate to watch Andrew complete since he was in elementary school and his progress, commitment and dedication is second to none.”
Finally, Starostka was a three-time Class C Nebraska state placer, finishing fifth and third twice. He did this despite battling some injuries the past few winters.
“Jeremiah has a lot of potential. He is very strong and powerful and keeps in good position,” said Bauer. “He is a great addition to our program and we look forward in him representing the Lopers.”
Among the returning Lopers in 2013 will be Stots (149 lbs.) and fellow All-Americans Kevin Barrett (285 lbs.) and Mark Fiala (184 lbs.).